tv Sophie Co RT September 1, 2014 2:29am-3:01am EDT
good to have you with us you're. welcome to. not say now is terror such a thing as a former drug addict today we'll talk to somebody who says he's an example of one heroin user who after kicking the habit of end up at her rehab clinic helping numerous people including the likes of russell brand and boy george they use what he says is a simple method total abstinence chip somers is our guest. the
war on drugs has raged for decades but addiction is still a horrifying reality. are drug users criminals just waiting to be locked away. people need help. students a cure for addiction and can one ever be cured completely. chip somers a former heroin addict who now runs a clinic helping drug abusers kick the habit welcome it's great to have you on our show today thank you so obviously i want to start with your personal story how did drug addiction get you. it got me when i was about seventeen and just starting out of lessons and i started coming across drugs in london and the thing that attracted me most of all was that they made me feel very good i think. people often forget that drugs do make you feel very good i mean if that's the argument that most of the drug users use that makes you feel so good that you know what to do or think about anything else but that's why it's so hard to forget about
it and and the kick it out but what happened that made you change your life i think i had a very difficult childhood i think i had. was sexually abused and i had various things that were problematic so by the time i was seventeen i was not really a very. kind of complete individual and i thought drugs gave me that extra dimension that allowed me to kind of communicate with the world and how long how long did it last still hold drac face. i was an addict for eighteen years. and i would think of that only the first four or five months were pleasurable after that it became a daily grind. mr somers but also when i said i what happened that made you change your life i meant what happened when you decided that that's it i really want to kick it off i don't want to do this anymore what was the turning point for you. have lots of things that should have been turning points i'd been to prison been
involved in the homelessness and things like that but the thing that actually made me change my mind was meeting somebody who had stopped using themselves thus giving the light to the belief that if you once you were addicted you were always going to be addicted meeting somebody clean was very inspiring for me was the first and only time that you wanted to finish off with drugs or did you try to kick it off before . i think i was probably giving up every other day everything every day every other day towards the end certainly the last ten years i would think most days i didn't want to do what i was doing now you are obviously a very strong advocate of abstinence did you traps knows right away you. know i think i've tried all sorts of things i've tried substituting one drug for another i was on methadone for twelve years. i would try anything other than give up drugs that was the last thing it was the most simple solution but it was the last solution that ever occurred to me but right now when it has worked for you
when you've been clean for so many years and you're helping others kick off this habit would you say abstinence is the answer for everybody or is it an individual thing there's obviously an individual choice in it but when we come to talk about addiction to cigarettes we understand quite clearly that there is either smoking or not smoking we believe completely and abstinence. can't quite understand why we don't have the same belief for drugs or alcohol to me the only way to productively dependency is to give up drugs altogether well i mean i suppose i can only assume that's because when you relapse into smoking cigarettes and nicotine it doesn't have a gram of casa quinces when you relapse after using heroin for the last example is philip seymour hoffman has been clean and he's been abstaining from drugs for so many years and he owed it from heroin so i suppose that could be the reason no.
yeah i think it's it is problematic that it is such an absolute decision to others use or not use but my experience is that those people who say remain on methadone or use other drugs or just drink a little bit ultimately they start building up their dependency again and they end up exactly where they started so if you think that abstinence is the answer why would you why why is that abstinence to me method of treatment right now what comes in its way because it's hard work it's hard work and it's expensive it's much more expensive it's not hugely expensive but it's more expensive than just giving people methadone to give people methadone is pretty cheap you don't have to interact with people very much and you can get rid of the drug problem quite easily by just handing out methadone every day to actually in to interact with somebody and to kind of encourage them and motivate them to get clean is much more hard work and we
don't have the resources street level to do that well so you're basically saying that it's all coming down to money but britain has been called here upset diction capital but at the same time it spends more on drug policy and there e.u. member why isn't it working. i might as well i might be out here now drawing this absolutely. you know skipping somebody on methadone for four or five years is ultimately going to cost a lot more than putting somebody through rehab two or three times not everybody's going to get rehab the first time not every is going to get absent the first time but at least give them the opportunity and ultimately will be much cheaper to do that. but do you think do you think england is coming slowly to do that or do you think it's going to take much more fighting and struggling and time. i think it's going to go through a period now of moving backwards i think there's going to be massive cuts to the
drug and alcohol field and i don't think there's going to be money to put people through statutory rehab i don't think there's going to be that kind of funding it's much easier just to an ether ties all the addicts with methadone and leave them to the side so what's the solution. with the solution is to actually recognise that there are ways in which people can get better not to be so defeatist not to just give up and hope that they'll all go away the answer is to engage with people and make those people become hopefully productive people better people in their families better people in society and just really not such a drain but this isn't your humane method it means you have to appeal to the sense of responsibility of say a heroin addict. yes which is quite a difficult thing to do her because i think all addicts whether it's drugs or alcohol have the ability to convince themselves that what they are doing is
justified what they are doing is necessary and i think it's important that you try and get people perhaps like myself or other people who have been through the same system who've been addicted to try and talk to those people and encourage them to get better at the moment lot of the people who are working in the drug services have no experience themselves of drug addiction and don't really engage at the right level and also there are harsher methods to take drug addiction than yours and forced withdrawal hauger as elation what do you think of them. i don't think they have you know obviously you will get people clean getting people clean is very very easy week i could get all the addicts in the u.k. clean in two weeks but the trick is obviously to try and get them to stay clean there's no point in just getting somebody clean and they're not giving them follow up care and support the solution is obviously to give them long term support but also mr summers i just wonder is it even possible for someone to kick the habit if
they don't absolutely want to be done with drugs themselves i don't think it's very productive to do it that way i have never seen it work that way i think perhaps the american model of asking people to go to narcotics anonymous meetings on a regular basis as part of their sentence has some effect but really we've seen very poor results from forcing people it's important that people take some ownership of the process and it's therefore really requires the addict themselves to take part in it but also you can't just give up drugs in a day specially hard drugs the person's body undergoes extreme stress because of withdrawal what was your experience how long did it take you and show you were completely clean about eight days i think this myth of getting your drugs off drugs needs to be addressed because most addicts experience of withdrawal is
a sudden withdrawal of drugs because there's nothing on the street or they run out of money or they get put in prison for a few days that is very severe withdrawal it's quite uncomfortable it's not life threatening but it's quite uncomfortable detox in a rehab is done in a managed way with a supplementary or substitute drug and it really takes very little time about eight or nine days to get the drugs out of the system. so it's a bit of a myth this thing that it's going to be very difficult so this is the hardest part comes right after those eight days. yeah getting off the drugs is easy. mean most addicts are doing it regularly anyway they get put in prison they get locked up by the police over the weekend the dealer goes away they run out of money people are going through withdrawal a lot but that's very very different to something that is managed cared for looked after and they are given substitute drugs and it's very easy one but i mean i realize i may be asking you a knave question but is there
a best way to ensure that you don't relapse. yes i think to remember the reality of your drug use i think we all have a tendency once we've been away from the drugs or anything for a period of time to think of it as being something completely different to what it actually was i think we do the same sort of thing with partners we have a bit of distance from a partner for a while and suddenly we think the wonderful and lovely again and we forget that they were actually quite difficult to live with and i think the same thing applies to drugs we start looking back with rose tinted glasses and we don't look at it as a reality so much we're going to take a short break now we'll be back with chip somers demand her first overcame his own heroin addiction and is now helping others to do the same let's talk about ways to fight drug abuse stay with us.
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and we're back with chip somers a former drug addict turned rehab director great to have you back in the second part of our program so any other clinic when you help people. finish with drugs which drug do you deal with the most was just a part of silver. i think probably alcohol because it's so readily available in the public you can get it anywhere and it's legal and it doesn't cause any problems in terms of purchasing and getting it so i think that's probably the most difficult to deal with on a long term basis some of the more drugs that have come along like ketamine very
problematic because of the physical consequences of using drugs like that especially with the damage it does to the blood or so there's some long term medical problems with that i think the opiate ones present a problem in that it's a very much a huge lifestyle choice and getting people to change from that lifestyle to a sort of normal lifestyle is really quite difficult it's a drug called crocodile that's ever everyone's been talking about at least in this part of the world lately it's a flesh eating drug that's gaining popularity what are the facts where the effects of this drug and is it even treatable. i think it's as treatable as anything that it's you know a very pernicious drug but it's also extremely cheap and easily produced so the attraction is is in that rather than its effects probably which is not dissimilar to many other drugs but the advantage of it being extremely cheap unfortunately
people don't seem to register the effects of drugs and there are many drugs that we're using on a regular basis especially over here that have devastating effects physically but people still don't seem to realize that it's something that's going to be dangerous for them they always think it's going to happen to somebody else now obviously it's the personal stories that inspired many here finish off what drugs what is the worst kids that you have seen and been able to cure we've seen people with extremely bad liver damage as a result of alcohol misuse we've seen people who are who have been totally destitute and addicted for twenty to twenty five years and yet have still been able to turn their lives around and become useful and lead worthwhile lives i don't think it's a question of being everybody's story is this is different and everybody's rock
bottom is different to everybody else's it's very much an individual choice for some people the decision to change might be because they have to sell their car or something but for other people homelessness and crime might be the thing that makes them go over the edge. is there such thing as a point of no return when it becomes impossible to deal with addiction or to cure it we haven't come across it yet the oldest plant i've heard was seventy five years old and he went on to lead a good few years before he died but he led a much better life i don't think there's any point of no return i think there are people who obviously get themselves into very bad physical or mental states but i certainly don't believe there's a point when you cut off and say ok that person is hopeless i don't believe anybody is hopeless yeah you brought up alcohol couple of instances in the u.k. drinking is a big part of the culture it's like if you don't drink you're consider an outside
of the norm is that what drives the u.k.'s drinking problem the u.k. drinking problem is very bad it's got progressively worse over the last fifteen years and the whole kind of social stigma associated with alcohol is changed completely the whole attitude to being drunk has changed completely it's no considered to be quite alright to be drunk on the street whereas fifteen years ago that would have been something to be quite shameful about nowadays those people are getting drunk on very cheap alcohol and it's becoming a difficult problem to deal with and unfortunately a lot of people are drinking much too much why do you think that happened what's different now from fifteen years ago. i suppose there is a slightly grown and social problem in that many people know are feeling hopeless they don't feel that they have the opportunity to progress but i also think there is a culture of excessive drinking whereby it is the norm to drink and it's considered
to be normal not to drink and certainly not to drink to excess has to drive here is problem because also more excessive in a fast fifteen years or is it just alcohol. no no drug use has become much more acceptable now there was a time when somebody who was using drugs would have been separate and isolated and really not mixing but nowadays cocaine use is very common in social settings and also to a certain extent some of the more designer drugs are being used in social settings without the stigma that used to come along with it. has that led to more drag that it is because some say that if drugs are accessible that you know people aren't interesting in them anymore well i think i think the opposite is true i think the more drugs that are available the more people are likely to use them. fifteen twenty years ago it was very unusual for people to use heroin as the first drug
they would ever take whereas that is now probably much more common that people's first experience of drug use could easily be heroin whereas fifteen years ago it was the end result of drug use i think things have shifted a lot due to the availability of drugs thirty years ago a gram of heroin was ninety pounds a gram of heroin now is fifty pounds so it's completely disproportionate to inflation and therefore there's an awful lot of drugs around. is it even possible to lead a normal long life with drug use if it's done safely and kept under control. this is where i certainly differ from those people who advocate methadone and i don't believe that being dependent on methadone needing to take your methadone every single day otherwise one is going to go into withdrawal i don't believe that is a stable lifestyle i believe that it's a lifestyle that is dominated by drug use and i don't therefore believe that it's possible to have
a normal life whilst you are frightened that if you don't have drugs the next day you're going to go into withdrawal so you're probably against the idea of a drug rooms where addicts could inject drugs under medical supervision completely i think it's a vast waste of money i'm sure it probably would save one or two lives but the money involved to having to staff those places having to have them having to find somewhere to go to having to change the laws to make it acceptable all that's going to cost a huge amount of money probably in the region for a small area like brighton or somewhere like that about three hundred thousand pounds a year easily for that sort of money you could put thirty or forty people through rehab and many more of them would be saved and many more of them would go on to give up drugs completely but what would you say is the global solution to these widespread drug or drug drug use in britain that has become more excessive for a hit all of it what way or what would you have an idea in your hat what should be done what measures should be implemented while i think you have to go unfortunately
the answer to deal with it is quite a big answer in that you have to go right back to looking at making sure that people come through the childhood feeling confident and having some self-esteem and not going through childhood in such a way that by the time they are able to take drugs they find that drugs are the answer to their problems hopefully somebody like my son for instance who i hope has been brought up in a loving way. was when he's know that he's twenty he doesn't feel the urge to and the need to to go off and take drugs but i think it's a to solve the problem of people needing to be intoxicated or have their mood changed it's a very very big problem so you're saying. i mean if we generalize the solution is that parents need to be good parents. i would say that. it is a put it's most simple yes i think that's that's the best way of dealing with it you know how i think you know. a home alone well that's
a big problem. i'm not going to be able to do that in my lifetime but. i would hope that we would start to look at better education for people and all together looking at a better way of family life family life is not that great at the moment but for those of them who are already using drugs things like arrests prosecution punishment for a drug possession as and then b. is to what extent does this help out examine i know it wouldn't work for you but are there people that actually stop and think i really have to get my act cleaned up you know i think. i was particularly stubborn and even though there were many things that happened to me that should have been the kind of turning point for me to stop using getting arrested committing crimes i was really quite ashamed of going to prison these were things that would normally have made
a normal person probably stop using unfortunately sometimes it can have the reverse effect in giving one a sense of cue doss amongst the peer group that i was mixing in so i think it's different for everybody certainly for me it wasn't about going to prison it wasn't a kind of destitute and homeless life it was merely a tiny moment to do with my daughter made me finally decide to get clean but i mean some say that even if you kick off their drug addiction it's a lifelong struggle and not one day passes by when you don't struggle with yourself whether you going to relapse or not has it been the case with you as well or do you still think about drugs even though you've been clean for so many years. no absolutely not i haven't had any desire to use drugs from about three weeks three days into rehab i do not struggle on a daily basis not to use it doesn't even occur to me i have
a very firm belief that and the knowledge that drug use is going to be very very direction mental for me whereas normal life is maybe difficult and painful at times but it's much less painful than than a life of drugs and for me it's an easy thing i don't spend my day trying to fight against drinking or using also another huge topic is that there is a shot of marianna and it's been legalized in some united states states and the latin american countries also european countries do you think our brains are just trying to make money off of this or is it really a way to combat crime while i'm sure that whoever produces the legalize marijuana what it does arrive will be making money on it i think it's probably likely to happen i think it's probably the only drug where you could put forward a substantial argument for its legalization. it is a recreational drug that's used very commonly with many side effects and i think
probably it will be legal worldwide within about twenty years but i certainly think that whoever makes it is going to be making money at it nobody produces anything just out of altruistic social reasons but when you look globally at the world's illegal drug interests and what it's worth the numbers are mind blowing it's more than five hundred billion dollars at least that's actually close to the entire united kingdom budget so when you have. an impressive number like that then you just can't help but wonder how can anyone possibly combat an interest in this large and hope to win. well i think you can become easily paralyzed by the enormity of the problem and in the process not try to help the individual who is suffering suffering on the ground i think it's it is a huge problem it is a long term problem it's probably always going to be with us but i wouldn't like to
just give up sort of surrender to the enormity of the problem in the process miss helping people get better. thank you so much for this really interesting interview for sharing your personal experience with us for encouraging those who are in need of encouragement we're talking to chip somers an x. heroin addict who is now helping those abusing drugs and alcohol overcome addiction that's it for this edition of so think i will see you next time so stay with us.
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